1. Before you go to bed each night, remember your mother.
She is the most beautiful woman on this planet in every way. Her kindness radiates through her skin and her smile that extends from cheek to cheek. Remember this smile. Trust me, there will be times you will be stuck in a situation and this will be what comes across your brain. She will never stop loving you and has made more sacrifices for you than you will ever know. She has a physical beauty that one cannot categorize—the kind of physical beauty that stops a room as soon as she walks in. Close your eyes to the sight of her each night.
2. Understand what routines are and when to use them, but don’t live by them.
It’s a great thing to be diligent and organized. Ultimately, it helps in pretty much every situation. But have a strong respect for chaos and what that can bring. To do this, though, you must understand where the line is drawn between the two. And having some needed chaos in life will allow this line to be drawn with razor-sharp precision. See chaos as a burning fire; if controlled, it can be beautiful, but if it consumes you it can hurt you badly.
3. Enjoy movies and books. Whenever. Wherever.
Storytelling is one of the best gifts we as humans have on this planet. Embrace that. Read and watch as many stories as you can from as many authors and filmmakers as you can find. Appreciate what goes into these forms of storytelling. Oh, and practicing over a campfire helps a lot if you ever want to do it yourself.
4. Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you, not just “friends.”
The term “friend” nowadays is as loose as a Hawaiian shirt dangling in the Key West winds. Surround yourself with people who take genuine interest in what you do. And not only this, but people who want to see you excel at those things and become a better person because of them. Best rule here? Quality trumps quantity (although at an early age you might not see it this way).
5. Travel as much as possible.
Immersing yourself in other cultures does two very wonderful things: 1) It allows you to walk in other peoples’ shoes and gain new and valuable perspective; 2) It strikes a match inside of you that burns for home again. Home is your core. Your being. Never forget that.
6. Write something every day.
Do your best to do what Stephen King does (if you don’t know who Stephen King is then stop reading this and go find out right now. This is your father speaking and I say do it now) and write six edited pages each day. OK, OK, at least write something every day. It’s OK if its sucks—just get it out and onto paper.
7. No matter what, respect and kiss your husband or wife before your head hits the pillow each night.
I can’t tell you how important this is when you are older. You will have some transcending moments with your significant other. Moments that will redefine what you thought love meant. You will also have times that will make you want to cry for weeks and run off into the sunset. Through both the bright and dark times, always do your damnedest to kiss that person each night and uphold respect for them. I know if you are doing this then hopefully the person you chose is doing this back to you.
8. Never be afraid of yourself.
Finally, you are you. You are a product of me, but you are your own soul—your own being. You are a woman who helps others through creativity and whose backbone is made of selflessness. Allow yourself to never back down from being who you are. That might not fit in with specific time periods of your life, but I promise that at some point it will even out. When you exit conversations, people should remember your kindness and how engaging and entrenched you were in the subjects at hand. Rise up to all challenges that require strength. Do not be afraid.
Now hop onto the Yellow Brick Road and don’t be scared to venture off the path from time to time.
Your Future Father